Tamil Nadu

Drilling a passage to reach boy makes slow progress

Deputy CM O. Panneerselvam taking stock of rescue efforts at Nadukattupatti near Manapparai on Monday.

Deputy CM O. Panneerselvam taking stock of rescue efforts at Nadukattupatti near Manapparai on Monday.   | Photo Credit: m_srinath

A combination of rigs encounters hard rock, manages to get to a depth of 65 ft. till Monday evening

Nearly 72 hours after non-stop operations began on Friday evening to rescue two-year-old Sujith Wilson, who fell into an abandoned borewell at Nadukattupatti near Manapparai, the efforts to dig a passage to reach the child made slow progress even after the deployment of high-power rigs.

Drilling of a new passage using a rig began on Sunday morning in a last-ditch attempt to reach and rescue Sujith, who is believed to be stuck at a depth of 88 feet.

Besides the teams of national and State disaster management and rescue teams, Fire and Rescue Services personnel, the entire official machinery of Tiruchi district and senior Ministers are camping at Nadukattupatti. After exhausting various options, the Integrated Command Centre set up in the village to coordinate rescue efforts resorted to drilling a hole to a depth of about 100 feet and then a horizontal tunnel to the borewell to launch a manned rescue operation. A second rig, with twice the power of the first one, brought in from Ariyalur, was deployed at around 2 a.m. on Monday. But this could not make rapid progress in drilling through hard rock. The two drills reached a depth of 40 feet until 10 a.m.


In the afternoon, officials engaged a traditional borewell rig to assist the high-power ones to break through the rocks. Though there was an element of risk in using the borewell rig as it could set off vibrations and noise that might endanger the boy, the method was considered to be effective. Until Monday evening, the machines had drilled to a depth of about 65 feet with technical expertise provided by experts and geologists from Oil Natural Gas Commission, Neyveli Lignite Corporation and L&T.

Also read: Sujith's family keeps its hopes alive

“We never expected that the operation will be such a daunting task. The solid rock formation is proving to be a stumbling block. The operation will continue until we rescue Sujith Wilson,” said J. Radhakrishnan, Commissioner of Revenue Administration.

“The task is challenging as we have to race against time. But we have not lost hope,” said Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar, who is coordinating the rescue efforts. Collector S. Sivarasu said 15 techniques suggested by various experts had been attempted. A couple of farmers, said to be well versed in such rescue efforts, are on their way to the village.

Sujith’s parents are being briefed about the risks involved. Deputy Chief Minister O. Pannerselvam held a meeting with Ministers Vijayabaskar, Vellamandi N. Natarajan and C. Valarmathi, Mr. Radhakrishnan and other officials at the spot.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 8:19:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/drilling-a-passage-to-reach-boy-makes-slow-progress/article29816261.ece

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